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Chapter One. Background > Keep the Simple Simple

1-2. Keep the Simple Simple

Technology is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.

C.P. Snow (quoted in Jarman 1992)

Despite a burgeoning population of interface designers, few consumers claim that new products, such as an electric, four-button wristwatch, are easier to use than they were a few decades ago. If you point out to me that watches, like computers, now have much greater functionality (true) and that, in consequence, the interfaces have had to become more complex (debatable), I respond by pointing out that even the simple tasks that I used to do easily have become mired in complexity. Complex tasks may require complex interfaces, but that is no excuse for complicating simple tasks. Compare the difficulty of setting the time on your electronic, four-button wristwatch to that of completing the same task on a mechanical model. No matter how complex the overall system, there is no excuse for not keeping simple tasks simple.


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